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Growth Marketing Strategy: What It Is and How To Create One

Date published: June 29, 2023
Last updated: March 7, 2024

Creating an effective marketing campaign can feel overwhelming. There is an endless variety of traditional marketing and digital marketing options to choose from. 

Figuring out which ones can help your business and then weaving them into an effective plan is difficult — especially if you don’t have something to guide you.

That’s where a growth marketing strategy can be a lifesaver.

What Is a Growth Marketing Strategy?

Growth marketing is an approach to both outbound and inbound marketing that focuses on two things:

  • The customer: Growth marketing is a customer-centric approach to marketing, especially in contrast to traditional marketing, which focuses on a company trying to generate revenue rather than the end user.
  • Data: Growth marketing ditches the gut instinct decision-making and replaces it with rock-solid data. From Google Analytics dashboards to A/B testing, growth marketing focuses on gathering and interpreting data to guide each marketing decision.

Growth marketing is too specific and data-driven to be a “seat of your pants” kind of marketing operation. Instead, it requires a solid growth marketing strategy to guide you. 

Of course, that raises the question of what a “strategy” is in the first place. Is it a plan, mindset, or a series of actions? The answer is yes — to all of it. 

The truth is, the term “marketing strategy” is a bit nebulous. For instance, Corporate Finance Institute literally defines it as “a long-term plan formulated by a business to achieve specific organizational objectives.” 

Okay, so it’s a plan, right? Hold the phone.

Market Insider Group adds that a marketing strategy:

  • Defines company growth through customer conversion and retention.
  • Aligns teams with marketing-related business goals.
  • Communicates company value to the end consumer.

That’s an awful lot more than just a plan. Why? Because a genuine marketing strategy starts with a plan, but it goes beyond that. A quality growth marketing strategy:

  • Defines the roadmap to successful growth.
  • Identifies the factors that impact that path.
  • Aligns your entire team with that vision.
  • Executes that vision.
  • Measures its results and makes adjustments.

To put it another way, a good growth marketing strategy considers all of the factors required to create happy customers (and, by extension, sustainable revenue growth), and then factors them into a single blueprint. This plan of action then influences your mindset over time as well as your actions as you execute specific, growth-oriented marketing activities in the name of long-term growth.

Still confused? Let’s break it down by considering some of the factors that go into developing and then executing a good growth marketing strategy.

How Do You Develop a Growth Marketing Strategy?

While the roadmap aspect of a growth marketing strategy makes sense in theory, that barely scratches the surface. Here are a few of the major factors to consider when developing a growth marketing strategy. 

Use a Growth Marketing Plan Template (or Update an Existing One)

As we already mentioned above, a growth marketing plan is a little different than your actual growth marketing strategy. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, part of your plan should consist of a concise and memorizable version of your strategy — along with many other key factors that impact that strategy. For instance, your growth marketing plan should include:

  • Your goals and vision: What are you trying to accomplish as a company, with a certain product, or as a marketing team this year?
  • Competitor research: How are your competitors executing their strategies? What’s working? What isn’t?
  • A SWOT analysis: What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? How will these help or hinder your marketing efforts?
  • Your budget: What financial parameters will either facilitate or limit your growth marketing activities?

Your growth marketing plan should contain all of these different factors in a single location. This then serves as a foundational document and an organized repository for your compiled research and data. 

Whether you need to find a growth marketing plan template to start from scratch or you need to update an existing one, make sure to take the time to invest in a written plan as you craft your strategy. The data provided will help  you align your efforts with your goals and direct your growth marketing investments. 

Remember, your growth marketing plan is your North Star. It will guide your growth marketing strategy over time.

Focus on the Customer

It doesn’t matter if you’re interacting with a potential customer or a veteran patron. The customer is everything to a growth marketer.

Make sure you’re viewing each potential customer and existing customer with the same respect — everyone you do or could serve as a business has value to your long-term growth strategy. They should always be at the center of your growth marketing strategy, too.

That said, if you want to develop an effective strategy, make sure you know your target audience. Conduct ongoing research. Develop buyer personas. Ask for feedback from existing customers. However you go about it, make sure to keep your finger on the pulse of the audiences you serve.

Evaluate Your Current Marketing Efforts

You can’t strategize in a vacuum. For better or for worse, you need to consider where your growth marketing efforts currently stand. 

The customer lifecycle is a good place to start. 

Remember, growth marketing is different from traditional marketing in the sense that it focuses on the customer at every point and in every circumstance. You aren’t just looking for sexy stats, like a large number of views on a paid ad or how many times a social post was shared. 

Instead, you want to consider the entire sales funnel. The “Pirate Funnel” is a good way to remember the various stages of the customer journey and how they pertain to growth marketing. The marauder-themed sales funnel goes like this from top to bottom:

  • Awareness
  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Revenue
  • Referral

Put them together, and you get the acronym AAARRR. (Get it? Pirate lingo?) Keeping the Pirate Funnel in mind is a good way to maintain that customer-centric perspective. 

You could be cooking up new customer acquisition ideas or brainstorming customer retention options. Regardless, every time you interact with a customer at any point along this funnel, you should have growth marketing on the brain.

Both have value, and both are essential aspects of a healthy customer lifecycle, which begs the question: where in this funnel are you lacking? What areas of the customer lifecycle are lackluster in your current marketing activities? These are areas that you should focus on with your growth marketing strategy.

The Three Pillars of a Growth Strategy

At Relevance, we’ve found that a successful growth marketing strategy boils down to three key areas.

  • Authority: Authority comes from a solid content strategy that demonstrates your thought leadership and ability to provide genuine solutions to real-world problems.
  • Credibility: This refers to digital PR and the process of validating your brand through credible mentions and recommendations from high-profile third-party sources.
  • Visibility: Search engine optimization ensures that search engines (and the people that use them) can find you as they seek answers to their questions.

Focusing on these three aspects of growth marketing can lend a synergistic element to your strategy process. It can ensure that you’re reaching your target audience while simultaneously establishing yourself in their minds as an industry leader that they can trust to solve their problems.

If you want to own your industry, make sure your growth strategy incorporates all three of these elements.

How Do You Create a Growth Marketing Campaign?

So far, we’ve considered how to lay the groundwork for an effective strategy for growth marketing. We’ve looked at:

  • Using a growth marketing plan as a way to define and guide your strategy over time.
  • Focusing on the customer at all points and with every action.
  • Identifying the weak points in your current marketing efforts.
  • Incorporating authority, credibility, and visibility as core elements of your growth marketing strategy.

These factors help you gain the insights and information you need to set the stage for a powerful strategy.

But how do you turn that vision into reality? How do you execute a growth marketing strategy? Once again, here are a few things to consider to make sure you can turn your percolating growth-oriented strategy into a bonafide marketing reality.

Build the Right Internal Team

The best plan is useless if you don’t have the right people in place to execute it. With that said, consider who in your organization should be involved in your growth marketing efforts. 

Remember, you’re talking about a lot of different factors at once. SEO, digital PR, and content creation are time-consuming, even for a seasoned veteran. 

Who do you need to be involved with to make sure each aspect of your growth marketing plan is performed to perfection? Do you need digital marketers? Writers? Graphic designers? What about IT staff to help with the technological nuances? Should you onboard a member of the C-suite to guide the vision and streamline permissions and resource acquisition?

This is also a good time to consider if you have the personnel available to execute your growth marketing strategy effectively. If you’re lacking in talent, skill, or experience, or your internal team simply can’t manage the workload, you may want to bring in an external growth marketing agency to help develop the best strategy possible and lighten the load during its execution.

Consider Growth Marketing Channels and Tactics

Finally, consider the channels that you have available to turn your growth marketing vision into reality. The options here are legion and include channels and tactics like:

  • On-site content marketing, including blogs and long-form guides
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Technical audits and search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Backlink outreach and creating guest post content
  • Affiliate and influencer marketing

The channels that you use will completely depend on your situation. Everything from your audience preferences to your budget will dictate what you can use. 

The main thing to remember is that a good growth marketing strategy will incorporate multiple marketing channels and tactics (as long as they’re relevant and effective). They’ll also look for cross-channel promotional opportunities (such as repurposing an on-site SEO-optimized blog post for social media) to get the most out of every growth marketing activity.

What Is an Example of a Growth Marketing Strategy?

If you’re nodding your head in agreement, but you’re still struggling to visualize how all of this comes together into a comprehensive strategy, let’s consider an example. 

During the pandemic, Relevance helped the relationship and experience brand 7:47 make a major pivot with its growth strategy. Brand founder Chris Schembra was already popular in his own circles due to his wisdom and ability to encourage human connection.

During the isolation of the pandemic, we helped Chris and the 7:47 team build up a digital PR element to their growth marketing strategy that included placements and mentions on USA Today, Entrepreneur, The Good Men Project, and other major sites. 

We also helped get Chris's book onto Forbes’s “8 Books That Will Help You Spark Human Connection in 2020” list. Chris also repurposed much of this new credibility and authority into on-site and social content, beefing up his visibility in the process.

The end result was a stronger, more impactful brand with a clear growth strategy that came from adapting a pre-existing vision to align it with the current conditions.

Building a Growth Marketing Strategy That Can Go the Distance

Growth marketing is a complex, flexible, data-driven activity. As such, it requires a thoughtful and inspired strategy.

If you already have a growth marketing strategy in place, give it an overhaul and consider what areas need an upgrade. If you don’t have one yet, start developing and executing one as soon as possible. 

Write down a detailed plan. Build a team. Choose your marketing channel and tactics. Then revisit and revise your strategy on a regular basis so that it can remain a relevant and potent North Star that empowers you to take each step of your growth marketing journey with confidence.

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